About a year ago, I wrote a gentle but firm breakup letter from CMOs to the marketing funnel. They have a more attractive love interest who is in the relationship for the long haul; the perfect partner for the age of the customer. For many, calling it quits with the marketing funnel has been messy and difficult, leaving a lot of marketers desperate to move on, but pulled back to the familiar, comfortable arms of linear, campaign-driven, transaction-oriented marketing.
Like your best friend who was willing to be patient and forgiving as you repeatedly returned to your ex, it’s time I throw down the gauntlet: Commit to the customer life cycle or be left behind by your peers who get that the terms of engagement have changed. Loyalty, context, and relevance are the new black as customers outrun campaigns, have heightened expectations for brand interactions, and use mobile technology at remarkable scale. This is not the customer Elias St. Elmo Lewis was dealing with. Fundamentally different customer behavior demands new tools.
In the age of the customer, companies must be customer-obsessed, putting knowledge of and engagement with customers ahead of all other strategic and budget priorities. The customer life cycle is the framework that puts the customer at the heart of all activities, allowing the customers’ unique context and set of interactions define what their brand experience is.
About a year ago, I wrote a gentle but firm breakup letter from CMOs to the marketing funnel. They have a more attractive love interest who is in the relationship for the long haul; the perfect partner for the age of the customer. For many, calling it quits with the marketing funnel has been messy and difficult, leaving a lot of marketers desperate to move on, but pulled back to the familiar comfortable arms of linear, campaign-driven, transaction-oriented marketing.
For the past two weeks, the Sochi Olympic Winter Games showcased the best athletes in the world competing to win Olympic gold and be recognized as the best in the world. So, what does it really take to be an Olympian? A commitment to understanding the competitive environment to find your edge along with a willingness to put in the hard work to continuously excel above the rest.
Four years between Olympic Games is a lifetime in competitive sports. Yet from time to time, we find success stories such as Apolo Ohno (2002, 2006, 2010), the US women’s hockey team (1998, 2002, 2006, 2010), Dick Button (1948, 1952), and Bonnie Blair (four Olympic Games between 1984 and 1994) staying at the stop of their sport year and after year. How do these Olympians succeed when so many others have tried and failed? These unique stars understand that they must learn, grow, and evolve as the sport they play in changes. Beyond keeping up with the daily physical demands and competitive nature of the competition, they understand that staying at the top and winning requires them to be agile, evolve their skills, and always be looking just ahead of the curve.
Despite a recent lackluster earnings call, there’s a bright spot on the horizon for Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. Forrester’s latest TRUE brand compass research shows a reservoir of consumer goodwill for the struggling brand.
In August 2013, Forrester conducted Consumer Technographics® research with 4,551 US online adults to uncover the drivers of a successful 21st-century media brand. This research is part of Forrester’s TRUE brand compass framework, designed to identify which brands are winning the battle for consumer mindshare and to help marketers build a brand that is trusted, remarkable, unmistakable, and essential (TRUE). This framework has two core components: 1) An overall TRUE brand compass ranking gives a snapshot of a brand’s resonance — the emotional connection a customer has with a brand, and 2) the TRUE brand compass scorecard reveals a brand’s progress along each of the four TRUE dimensions.
The results showed a tale of two digital media eras and the importance of brand building in the digital world:
1990s digital media brands reap the rewards of brand building investment. Established digital media brands from the late 1990s recognized the importance of building their brands with consumers. Yahoo was a TV ad mainstay for many years — “Do you Yahoo!” anyone? This early investment continues to pay off as, despite corporate turmoil, the Yahoo brand retains a reservoir of brand resonance with consumers. And the mighty Google, which was the only media brand surveyed to achieve trailblazer status, continues to invest in TV brand building ads.
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News out today confirms that Sony has indeed sold off its Vaio PC arm, ending 17 years in the personal computer business. And that CEO Kazuo Hirai has also decided to separate the TV division into a standalone unit in order to better heal it. Although he insists for now that Sony has no plans to sell that division, it would be foolish of the company not to consider any good offers. If there are any.
Because really, who would want that business? It has lost nearly $8 billion in the last 10 years and has been rapidly losing share to Samsung and LG and is about to get attacked by Chinese TV makers eager to have more influence in the US and other Western markets. I saw a very impressive offering from Hisense, TCL, and Haier at this year’s CES and expect them to make inroads against the more expensive panels from Sony, Panasonic, and Sharp, all of which have struggled to keep up.
This certainly doesn't mean most marketing is useless, but it's a telling statistic about the divide that separates marketing messages that operate at 30,000 feet from sales conversations that happen at 3 feet — the average distance between a salesperson and a prospect during a sit-down meeting.
In this digital age, it's increasingly important for marketing to play a bigger role in helping sales not just get "your" message in front of a customer, but to make it "their" message — something that the buyer cares enough about to talk to your rep and to do something that upsets the status quo as a result. It's about creating content that can play dual roles: attracting and educating buyers while giving sales a deeper understanding about what's attracting that attention in the first place. To achieve both, marketers have to understand their buyers. Better. Deeply. Obsessively.
In days gone by, when a British monarch died, the town crier would roam the streets of London calling out, “The king is dead. Long live the King.” This seemingly contradictory statement announces the beginning of a new regal era. The old king is dead; long live the new king. In 2013, the old era of siloed digital marketing ended and a new era of what Forrester calls post-digital marketing began. There was no official town crier and so perhaps you missed these headlines:
January 2013: Forrester’s David Cooperstein observed, “We are at another inflection point, as we move from digital marketing as a renegade effort to post-digital marketing . . . We are entering a world where digital innovation is merging with traditional marketing fundamentals to create new approaches, new brand leaders, and new models for success.”
September 2013: Procter & Gamble’s Global Brand Building Officer Marc Pritchard echoed this sentiment when he declared the end of the digital marketing era, saying that all digital marketing is “just brand building.”